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Intellectual property law focuses on things created by our minds. Unlike other forms of property, such as real estate or personal property, intellectual property results from our mental efforts. Intellectual property includes patents, trademarks, copyrights and trade secrets.
In a broad sense intellectual property (IP) refers to things created by our minds. Unlike land (real estate), which already exists, and goods, which we manufacture from physical materials, IP results from our mental efforts. In a more formal sense, IP is a set of legal rights related to products of the human mind.
Intellectual property is often said to be “intangible”, but this can be misleading because each of the main categories of IP can involve tangible objects. For example, a smart phone can be patented, a container shape can be a trademark and a sculpture can be a copyrighted work. We can however, think of IP as being intangible in that it originates from our thoughts.
Types of Intellectual PropertyIntellectual property includes the following main categories:
Exclusive RightsIntellectual property law provides for certain exclusive rights to the owner of the property. Just as a land owner has the right to prevent trespassers from using her land, an intellectual property holder has the right to prevent others from doing certain things with the property. These rights are often described as monopolies. In fact, intellectual property law is one of the few exceptions to the government’s policy of discouraging monopolies. The rights provided by intellectual property law are powerful. These rights are some of the most powerful legal rights in business. As we have seen in recent court battles, intellectual property can lead to some very large judgments. The consequences for infringement can be severe and sometimes the value of a company’s intellectual property can be greater than the company’s business.
It has always been important to act quickly when dealing with patent issues. Recent changes in patent laws make it even more urgent. Please call (775) 826-6160 to discuss how we can help you.
Patents protect inventions. Inventions can be devices, machines, systems, methods, processes, materials, software and many other things. Most inventions are small improvements on known items yet these improvements can be very valuable to you and your business. Patents can protect you from your competitors who would otherwise reverse engineer, copy or independently develop your inventions. Our Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents specialize in patents.
- Patents protect your innovations. Without a patent, your competitors are free to reverse engineer and copy your inventions.
- Our Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents are experts in preparing and prosecuting complex patent applications.
- We listen to you and study your invention and business. We craft custom patent applications focused on your specific inventions and calculated to bring the greatest value to your company.
- We use our many years of experience to efficiently navigate the labyrinth of rules and regulations in the Patent Office examination process to get your patents granted.
- Our staff has a diverse background in engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, medicine and other fields of technology; allowing us to understand your demanding technical innovations.
- We represent companies in all types of Patent Office proceedings, such as Appeals, Reexaminations, Reissue, Supplemental Examination, Derivation, Post-Grant Review, Inter Partes Review and Post Grant Submissions.
Patents provide a set of exclusive rights granted to inventors in exchange for public disclosure of inventions. The goal is to provide an incentive to invent and to help others learn from and improve upon the inventions. In a sense, the government offers a deal to inventors:
If you disclose your invention, the government
will give you a monopoly for a period of time.
In the United States, a patent provides the exclusive rights to make, use, offer for sale, sell and import the patented invention. Only the patent owner or the owner's licensees can legally do these things.
A patent is obtained by filing an application with the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office. The Patent Office is responsible for examining applications and granting patents under a set of very complex patent laws and regulations. Unfortunately, patent applications are not fill-in-the-blank forms. Each application must be carefully written to describe the technology of the particular invention, satisfy legal requirements and meet the needs of the applicant. Patent applications are one of the most complex legal documents. Only Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents are licensed to prepare, file and prosecute patent applications.
Inventions must meet a number of requirements in order to be patented. Two important and often contentious requirements are “novelty” and “non-obviousness”. These may sound straight forward, but the law has evolved so that determining what is novel and what is not obvious can be very involved.
Types of PatentsPatents can cover many different kinds of inventions.
- Utility patents are the most common type of patent. Utility patents are granted for functional inventions, such as processes, machines, manufactured items and compositions of matter.
- Design patents protect the appearance of objects.
- Plant patents protect asexually reproduced plants.
Utility patents currently last 20 years from the date the application is filed. Design patents last 14 years from the date they are granted.
Patents can be transferred (assigned) or licensed. A license gives the licensee certain rights under the patent.
Patent litigation generally involves infringement of patent rights. This occurs when a party exercises one of the patent rights without having an appropriate license. Almost all patent disputes are heard in federal court. Occasionally an issue related to patents may be determined by state law or in state court, but this is not common. Patent litigation can be complex.
- As Patent Attorneys and Patent Agents we specialize in patents.
- Our Patent Lawyers have satisfied demanding requirements that allow us to practice in all fields of patent law.
- We are licensed to practice before the United States Patent & Trademark Office and patent offices in other countries.
- Our staff has degrees and experience in technical fields such as engineering, chemistry and physics that help us understand the most complex technologies.
- We have worked in industry and we understand the needs of businesses and corporations.
- We are fully licensed to prepare, file and prosecute patent applications.
If you wait too long to take action, you may lose important rights. We specialize in patent law. Please call (775) 826-6160 to discuss your situation.
A Patent Attorney is Licensed to Practice all Aspects of Patent LawThis includes:
- preparing and filing patent applications
- prosecuting applications through the complex examination process in the Patent Office
- represent parties in all proceedings in the Patent Office
- providing legal opinions regarding patents, such as patentability and infringement/non-infringement opinions
- representing parties in patent litigation, such as patent enforcement and defense
- negotiating and drafting patent transactions, such as license agreements and assignment agreements
- conducting patent due diligence
- managing and maintaining patent portfolios
Becoming a Patent Attorney is Challenging
A patent attorney must:
- earn a degree in a technical subject, such as engineering, chemistry or physics. This helps us understand technically challenging inventions. Most other lawyers have little or no formal technical education.
- be admitted to at least one state bar. This generally requires:
- graduate from an accredited law school
- pass a state bar examination
- pass an ethics examination
- pass a moral character background investigation
- complete annual continuing legal education classes
- abide by professional rules of conduct, such as client confidentiality and conflict of interest rules
- pass a federally administered patent examination
- abide by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office professional rules of conduct
Not all lawyers who work with patents are Patent Attorneys. Make sure you know what you are getting. See also Patent Agent.
Patent Agents are licensed to:
- prepare and file patent applications
- prosecute applications through the complex examination process in the Patent Office
- represent parties in all proceedings in the Patent Office
- conduct other business in the Patent Office
Unlike Patent Attorneys, Patent Agents are not required to attend law school and are not licensed to practice law. Consequently, patent agents should not offer legal opinions, represent parties in litigation, draft legal agreements and perform other law related services.
Patent Agents are required to:
- have earned a degree in a technical subject, such as engineering, chemistry or physics.
- pass a federally administered patent examination
- abide by U.S. Patent and Trademark Office professional rules of conduct
See also Patent Attorneys.
Call (775) 826-6160 now to learn how we can help you.
Trademarks help customers identify your company and your products or services. Trademarks can include brands, names, logos, sounds, shapes and other distinguishing features. Your trademarks quickly communicate with your customers and convey certain qualities about your business. Trademark law can protect you from competitors who may copy your trademarks. ATIP Law can help you select, clear, protect and defend your trademarks.
- Every great business has a strong set of trademarks. Our staff of experienced attorneys and paralegals work with you to develop powerful trademarks and branding strategies.
- We help you create trademarks that are registerable, protectable and valuable.
- We prepare and file trademark applications optimized for your specific goods and services.
- We work with Trademark Office Examining Attorneys to efficiently and effectively register your trademark.
- We represent companies before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board in appeals, oppositions and cancellations.
- What is a trademark?
- What is trademark law?
- What forms do trademarks take?
- Who can own a trademark?
- Am I required to register my trademark?
- How do I register my trademark?
- Do I need a lawyer to register my trademark?
- What types of trademarks are there?
- How long do trademarks last?
- Can I sell you license my trademark to others?
- What is trademark litigation?
- What is a trademark attorney?
In one sense, a trademark is like a promise to your customers; a promise that you will deliver a certain experience. When your customers see your trademark, it instantly evokes a set of expectations. If your goods or services fall below those expectations, you will diminish your trademark. If you consistently deliver at or above those expectations, your trademark is strengthened. In another sense, a trademark is a mental shortcut. Trademarks allow customers to immediately recognize your business and its goods and services rather than having to relearn those things each time they see your company. When a customer sees your trademark, a set of mental impressions jumps into her consciousness. You can think of this as a label on box. When you see the label you remember what is in the box; you don't have to open the box and look through the contents each time.
Businesses spend a lot of time, money and other resources establishing their trademarks in the minds of their customers. Trademark law allows trademark owners to protect their investment by preventing other businesses from using confusingly similar trademarks with related goods or services.
Most people think of trademarks as logos, slogans or names of products, but trademarks can also be shapes, sounds, colors, textures and even scents. Almost anything that distinguishes a product or service can be a trademark as long as it meets a number of requirements.
Any kind of entity can own a trademark. Trademarks may be owned by corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships, associations and people. In most cases the owner is actively engaged in a business that uses the trademark. In come cases, a trademark may be owned by one entity that does not actively use the trademark. The trademark may be licensed to another entity that does actively use the trademark.
You are not required to register your trademark. However, if you do not register your trademark you lose important benefits. Here are some benefits of federal registration:
- Public notice of your claim of ownership of the mark;
- A legal presumption of your ownership of the mark and your exclusive right to use the mark nationwide on or in connection with the goods/services listed in the registration;
- The ability to bring an action concerning the mark in federal court;
- The use of the U.S. registration as a basis to obtain registration in foreign countries;
- The ability to record the U.S. registration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection to prevent importation of infringing foreign goods;
- The right to use the federal registration symbol ®;
- Listing in the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s online databases;
- Incontestability status after five years of continuous use;
- Potential recovery of greater damages and attorney fees in the event of infringement;
- Deter others from using your trademark;
- Protection against cyber squatters; and
- A psychological advantage over infringers and competitors.
In order to register a trademark, you must file a trademark application with either the United States Patent and Trademark Office or a state government. Once a trademark application is examined and all requirements and formalities are satisfied, the trademark becomes registered. In order to obtain federal registration, a trademark must be used in "interstate commerce". If a trademark does not qualify for federal registration, it may qualify to be registered in a state registration system. A federal trademark application can be filed before the trademark is actually used. This is called an intent-to-use application. When compared to patent applications, trademark applications are generally less difficult and less time consuming to prepare, file and prosecute. Consequently, trademark applications are usually less expensive than patent applications. In some situations, however, a trademark application can be more expensive than a patent application.
While corporations may be required to use a lawyer, individuals are not required to use a lawyer to register their own trademark. However, almost everybody associated with this field, including the trademark office, highly recommends using a trademark attorney. Using a trademark lawyer from the very beginning of the trademark process usually costs less in the long run than doing it yourself. If you make certain mistakes in the trademark process, it can be very expenses to correct those mistakes, you may loose your trademark rights and you can even loose your business.
We usually use the world "trademarks" to refer to marks that are used with either goods or services. However, you may also see the term "service mark" which refers to marks that are used with services. "Certification marks" refers to marks that are used to certify some characteristic of a good or service. "Collective marks" refers to marks that refer to members of a cooperative, association or other collective group or organization.
Unlike patents and copyrights, trademarks have no fixed term. Trademark rights can last for as long as the trademark is used. However, it is necessary to maintain registrations by periodically filing appropriate forms and fees.
Trademarks can be transferred (assigned) or licensed. A license gives the licensee certain rights under the trademark. Usually the trademark owner receives royalties, license fees or other benefits for the license.
Trademark litigation usually involves infringement of trademark rights. This occurs when a party exercises one of the trademark rights without having an appropriate license. Occasionally, trademark litigation involves ownership of a trademark. Trademark disputes can be heard in both federal and state courts. Most disputes involving federally registered trademarks are heard in federal court.
Only attorneys may file and prosecute trademark applications for others. In the U.S., trademark attorneys are generally licensed by at least one state to practice law.
Do not wait until it is too late. Call (775) 826-6160 to begin protecting your trademark rights.
We can help you with your copyright issues. Call (775) 826-6160 now.
Copyrights protect creative works of authorship. Works of authorship may include software, books, website content, movies, videos, pictures, sound recordings, sculptures, paintings, etc. Unlike patents that can protect practical concepts and ideas, copyrights protect the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. Our attorneys can help you protect and derive revenue from your copyrights.
- We help you protect your creative works of authorship using copyrights.
- Our attorneys work with you to identify your copyrightable works and maximize their value.
- We draft custom copyright agreements to protect you and achieve your goals.
Copyrights are an important part of intellectual property. Copyrights protect a wide range of original works of authorship. Works of authorship include, for example, books, articles, website content, computer software, music, plays, pictures, sculptures, graphical designs, movies, videos and architectural designs. The goal of the copyright system is to provide an incentive for authors to create by allowing them to control their works.
Expression v. Ideas
Copyrights can protect the expression of ideas but not the ideas themselves. Others can make their own works about actual facts presented in a copyrighted work.
In order to be protected, an original work of authorship must be fixed in a tangible form. Fixing a work in tangible form can be, for instance, writing it on paper, painting it on canvas or recording it on a memory device, such as an electronic memory, a hard drive or compact disk.
A copyright owner has exclusive rights to reproduce, distribute, prepare derivative works, publicly display and perform a work.
Works of authorship should be registered with the United States Copyright Office. The process is relatively simple and inexpensive. Although registration is not required, we highly recommend it. Registration can provide significant advantages in the event of infringement.
Term of Copyrights
A work created on or after January 1, 1978 is protected, from the moment of it's creation until 70 years after the author's death. For an anonymous work, a pseudonymous work, or a work made for hire, the copyright endures for a term of 95 years from the year of its first publication or a term of 120 years from the year of its creation, whichever expires first.
Copyrights can be transferred (assigned) or licensed. A license gives the licensee certain rights under the copyright.
Copyright litigation usually involves infringement of one or more rights. This occurs when a party uses or exercises a right without having an appropriate license. Copyright infringement disputes are almost always heard in federal courts. However, peripheral issues, such as ownership, can be determined in state court. Although all litigation can be expensive, copyright litigation is generally less expensive than other forms of intellectual property litigation.
Copyrights are time sensitive. Call (775) 826-6160 to learn more.
A trade secrets is commercially valuable information that is not generally know to the public. Trade secrets may include formulas, lists, databases, processes, machines and almost any other item that is maintained as secret. Unlike patents, which require disclosure of information, trade secrets require confidentiality and secrecy. If you take your company's trade secrets seriously, you will protect them with security measures, company procedures and written agreements. ATIP Law can help you establish the correct measures, procedures and agreements.
- Almost every business has information that provides a competitive advantage. If you do not have the correct agreements and procedures in place, this information will walk out the door with your employees, business partners and customers.
- Our attorneys work with you to identify and protect your valuable trade secrets.
An intellectual property license is an agreement to allow someone to use a portion of an intellectual property. The licensor may receive royalties or license fees from the licensee. An assignment is an agreement that transfers an entire interest in an intellectual property. Intellectual property transactions may also include security interests, joint venture agreements, swaps, cross-licenses, development agreements, non-compete agreements, joint ventures and many others. Our lawyers get your deals done by performing the necessary due diligence and negotiating and drafting powerful intellectual property agreements. Well written agreements can help you achieve the results you want and prevent expensive and time consuming disputes.
- Whether you are dealing with patents, trademarks, copyrights, trade secrets or rights of publicity, our experienced attorneys can assist you with buying, selling and licensing intellectual property.
- Our team works hard to get the deal done quickly and efficiently.
- We perform due diligence, we negotiate strong terms and we draft agreements to meet the needs of the situation.
- We manage the details and formalities so you can focus on your business.
Intellectual property requires an investment like any other business asset. Well run, innovative companies tend to accumulate large portfolios of intellectual property. Once you build your portfolio it must be effectively managed to preserve it and obtain maximum benefit. ATIP Law's attorneys and paralegals proactively monitor and maintain your company's intellectual property portfolio.
- As innovative companies develop, they usually accumulate large intellectual property portfolios. These portfolios can be difficult to manage.
- Your intellectual property portfolio must be managed to get the most from your investment.
- We proactively monitor and maintain large intellectual property portfolios. We remind you of deadlines and file documents and fees to preserve your rights.
- We watch for potentially conflicting developments and help you make important decisions.
What intellectual property do your competitors own? Where is your industry heading? What intellectual property will provide the best return on investment? How can you get the most from your limited resources? Our attorneys can help answer these and other important questions. We develop comprehensive plans to maximize the value of your intellectual property.
- We review and organize your intellectual property and develop tools to help leverage your portfolio.
- We work with research and development teams to maximize their intellectual property productivity.
- We map the intellectual property landscape in your industry.
- We help you avoid disputes by clearing new products and services and effectively communicating with other parties.
- We formulate overall intellectual property strategies to maximize the return on your investment.
We pride ourselves in keeping our clients out of court. If you do find yourself in a dispute, we work hard to obtain a cost-effective resolution.
- Our goal is keeping our clients out of court. We find solutions in difficult situations.
- If you find yourself in court, our attorneys work hard to achieve an effective resolution.
Whether it is negotiating and writing contracts or forming business entities (corporations, limited liability companies, partnerships), we provide a wide range of legal services in business law.
- Our lawyers and paralegals help our clients with a variety of business legal needs.
- We form and maintain corporations, limited liability companies and other business entities for our clients.
- We negotiate and craft a large variety of tailored contracts, such as development agreements, confidentiality non-disclosure agreements and business transactions.
- We advise on and help maintain compliance with a variety of government regulations.
About ATIP Law
We practice primarily in intellectual property and business law and we specialize in patents. We help companies develop, secure and maximize the value of their intellectual property.
We take the time to get to know you and to understand your specific needs and business situation. We create and execute custom strategies to achieve your goals.
Please call us to discuss your situation. We would like to sit down with you and talk about how we can work together.
Sample Industries and Technologies
ATIP Law has served companies in a wide range of industries and technologies:
- 3D printing
- fiber optics
- life sciences
- medical devices
- mobile devices
- power systems
- propulsion systems
- sports equipment
- veterinary devices
ATIP Law was founded in 1997 by Ian Burns, a registered patent attorney and graduate engineer.
Thank you for visiting our website. We love technology and innovation and we love helping entrepreneurs and leaders in all fields. Please contact us to discuss how we may work together.